U.S.: Edible Garden to roll out new Superleaf lettuce in 2017

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U.S.: Edible Garden to roll out new Superleaf lettuce in 2017

A New Jersey-based greenhouse grower is gearing up to launch its exclusive antioxidant-rich Superleaf lettuce and plans to soon issue licenses to overseas growers.

Edible Garden holds the production and marketing rights to the red and green leaf lettuce developed by a researcher at Rutgers University, and the company has been carrying out trials at its production sites across the country for the last three years.  

Edible Garden chief operating officer Ken VandeVrede

Edible Garden chief operating officer Ken VandeVrede

Speaking to www.freshfruitportal.com at the New York Produce Show and Conference held from Dec. 5-8, chief operating officer Ken VandeVrede said volumes had now built up enough for the official market launch next month.

"The Superleaf  is a variety of lettuce that was developed in a lab and contains five-times the amount of antioxidants than your regular, ordinary lettuce," he said.

"At Edible Garden we have the exclusive rights in North America, Europe and Australia. We’re starting to roll out in January in the U.S., and then we’ll expand upon it after that.

"This is a three-year project that we’re bringing to market. We’ve been trial growing it with Rutgers scientists in our greenhouses with our growers, and we have the exclusive, so we control the farmers that have been growing for us and it will be sold under the Superleaf brand."

The Northeast will be the first region to receive the product, grow in the New Jersey greenhouse, and that will be followed by other locations where the company owns production sites - Virginia, Florida and Indiana. Next year Edible Farms plans to expand to Colorado and California.

Currently there are around 10 acres of greenhouse space in total dedicated to growing the Superleaf lettuce. 

"So we’ll have a national foot print by 2017. In each region the produce is only shipped to areas within five hours' drive of the greenhouse," VandeVrede said.

"We’ve been doing this for 10 years and this is another project that works with distribution model under which we can have a national brand and yet supply locally grown produce. That’s where the consumer demand is – for locally grown, fresh, organic product." dsc_0128

The variety is non-GMO and is the only lettuce on the market to have a Utility Patent, according to the representative, who admitted it had been a 'little bit' of a challenge to convince consumers that it had not been genetically modified.

"But I think consumers are already aware of the last three to five years of superfood products on the market, and we’re the first in the lettuce space," he said.

The product will be sold in both the living version and in a clamshell, and will also be available year-round.

As well as expanding toward the West Coast next year, Edible Garden will also develop licensing agreements with growers in North America, Europe and Australia, with view to having the first overseas production up and running in 2018.

Looking further into the future, VandeVrede said numerous other leafy greens are being bred to have a higher nutritional content could also be added to the mix.

"The Rutgers scientist is in development with the arugula, spinach, and kale with superfood characteristics, and as they become available we’re going to be growing them and putting them in this brand," he said.



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